Luke 3:1-6 (New Living Translation)

It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness.

Why do we need to know all of this? Why did this seem important? Well, maybe it’s there for all you history geeks so you can go digging around learning about the Caesars, the culture, and checking the “sacred” against the “secular”. For that it is good that it is there, if only for that reason. (I have spent way too much of my time this week studying something that I would label others for taking time with! I have to admit, if I were smarter and had more time, this could be my new hobby!)

So,it gives us clues – about the culture, about the time. We think we know that Tiberius Caesar Augustus (born Tiberius Claudius Nero lived between Nov. 16 BC and March 16 AD 37. He was the stepson by third wife and adoptive son of Augustus – Gauius Julius Caesar Octavianus (the first among the most important of the Roman Emperors who ruled as an autocrat for 41 years, ending a century of civil wars and gave Rome an era of peace, prosperity, and imperial greatness, known as the Pax Romana, or Roman peace. So this tells a bit about the political climate – how it was and how it is in this time of preparation for the presence of Jesus – the advent of a new Kingdom order. Another interesting fact is that Tiberius reign following that of his step father – one who claimed he was the son of a god, since Caesar had been Deified. (and in case you didn’t know it, this would also have been the time of Cleopatra and Antony). “Rather than embark on disastrous campaigns of conquest, he chose to strengthen the existing empire by building additional bases, using diplomacy as well as military threats, and generally refraining from getting sucked into petty squabbles between competing frontier tyrants. The result was a stronger, more consolidated empire.” (Tiberius,Wikipedia) The prophesied “son of god” was well known. Those who ruled and reigned would have been looking for the “one who is to come” if they weren’t declaring themselves so. I’ll let others chime in here…tell us what you know…do some research…it really is facinating! (this is where you go to “comments” and click, i mean – if you want to)….

Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.

Isaiah had spoken of John when he said,
  “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
  ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
  Clear the road for him!
 The valleys will be filled,
  and the mountains and hills made level.
  The curves will be straightened,
  and the rough places made smooth.
 And then all people will see
  the salvation sent from God.’”

So, how here we are. There is a crazy man in the wilderness bringing up that prophecy again! What does he know? How does he know it? Will we listen to the cry of the times? Will we hear only the voices we want to hear? Will we listen only to the voice of pop culture and value only that which is safe? What are we to believe? Is this just another empty proclamation? Or is this it? The prophecy fulfilled…the Son of God- for real this time?

to be continued…
Isaiah 40:3-5